Facebook Timeline for Businesses- What You Need to Know
Hey Facebook users, guess what? As of the end of this month, all business pages are going to be switched to the new timeline view. Personal users are going to see this change rolled out a bit more slowly, but, to use a cliche, change is inevitable. So why should you care? What do you need to know about it for your own page? What do businesses need to know? First off, here's a glimpse of what your page could look like with the new timeline (pretty, ain't she?):
Now for the nitty gritty details of Facebook timelines:
1. Previewing- you can preview how your profile/page will look in timeline before you commit to the change. However, once you preview your profile, you only have 7 days in preview mode before changes go live.
2. Size matters- your profile image has to be at least 399px wide and can be as big as 851px wide x 315px tall-- not including your profile picture (although they do overlap a bit).
3. Publicity- All page cover images are totally public, as is your profile picture. This applies to businesses and personal pages as well.
4. New rules- now, I'm never sure how stringently Facebook can/will enforce rules. However, there are some new ones specifically related to cover pages that you should know. For the original wording, take a look at their posts here. (And please feel free to Pin that image- education for everyyyone!)
5. Contests- ok, so this has been a rule for a while now but it's pretty much flagrantly disregarded (especially amongst the blogger communities)... but you can NOT use a facebook page as an entry in a contest. Meaning, you can't say "go like XYZ's facebook page to enter!"
I know, I know- everyone does it. But again, it's against the rules, so you should at least be aware of that.
6. Begone, Landing Tabs!- this is kind of a bummer for a lot of pages. Before timeline, pages could create a custom tab for first-time visitors to the site, essentially "gating" their page and requiring new visitors to like the page before accessing any other of the brand's information. With timeline, that is GONE. DONEZO. IN THE WIND. As things stand right now, all users visiting your page (whether they've "liked" it or not) will see the exact same thing, including your posts, comments, etc. However, you can now use a bigger amount of real estate for your custom tabs, which leads me to...
7. New tab page sizing- now, when users click on any of your app/tab icons (those little squares just below your cover image), they'll get to see a much bigger page- a whopping 780px wide. You can also change the icons for your tabs (I'll be doing a tutorial on that later this week!) so that they're more enticing for users.
8. Sticky is good- have a post that you want to keep at the top of your timeline? Easy peasy. Just look for the post on your timeline (it has to be a post that you made, not someone who has written on your wall) and click the little pencil icon. Then click the "pin to top" option and voila! Your post has been stuck up on the top of your timeline. Note: "pinning" posts only lasts 7 days per pin.
9. Milestones- you can create "milestones" to add to your pages. Milestones are essentially large wall posts that span both columns of your timeline. Some milestones I've seen are when people have gotten engaged/married, had kids, etc. For my personal page, I created a milestone for when I got Finn. For LLY Designs, I created one marking the "official" soft launch for the company (when I filed my DBA and opened my business accounts last week). These are great spots to show off things like collages of event photos, awards, etc. and are particularly useful because their size catches the user's eye as they're scrolling down the page!
10. Conversations- this one is kind of a bummer, and something facebook will hopefully be working to improve. As of right now, conversations on the wall are condensed (on the right side of the timeline) into chunks where a box contains multiple posts that have been written on the wall recently. Users then have to click through to see the rest of the post and any of the comments. It's a funky way of doing things, but at the same time, it means you don't have to scroll down as far to see what people are talking about. This also means that your content is going to be even MORE important, since that takes up more real estate. ETA: Also, people who like brand pages can now send messages to the page admins- which may open a can of worms for companies that get embroiled in PR shitstorms, but should prove to be a handy way of communicating one on one for everyone else. (Thanks for the reminder, Melissa!)
Oh, and one more thing: for the love of all that is holy, please stop sending all of your Pinterest pins to facebook. It's annoying as hell and makes me hide you from my newsfeed. Athankya.
I hope this post has been at least somewhat helpful for you... if it's any consolation, everyone is pretty much learning about this at the same time! Luckily, you can still go in and preview things and mess around with what will show up in your timeline before you hit publish. And for you business page owners out there, I'm going to be running a pretty awesome special for the rest of March: for $150, I'll design you a custom cover image and custom tab, and install all of it for you. Interested? Drop me a line or leave a comment. Trust me, it's worth it.